BISHOP, Ga. – The University of Georgia and Texas A&M equestrian teams entered Sunday’s meet tied as the No. 1 team in the nation, but Georgia proved to be the better team, earning a 17-5 win over the Aggies in the first-ever Southeastern Conference equestrian meet. The Bulldogs grabbed its first win of the season to move to 1-0, and improved to 9-1 in season openers, while the Aggies dropped to 1-1 on the year. Georgia riders proved strong in both the Hunt Seat and Western disciplines, outscoring Texas A&M 11-1 on the Hunt Seat side and 6-4 in the Western discipline.
Caitlyn Francis earned MVP honors with her score of 97 in Equitation on the Flat. Texas A&M took home MVP honors in Equitation Over Fences, Horsemanship and Reining.
“Today was extremely successful,” head coach Meghan Boenig said following the meet. “I think this will start some great momentum. I am very proud of the riders, but we have to remember that as good as this feels, this is only Day One and we have to repeat these types of performances each week. We know that we have to compete all the way through each meet and throughout the season and we did that today.”
Georgia dominated in Equitation Over Fences, defeating the Aggies 5-1. Megan Southam earned the first point of the match, defeating Kat Barkema 82-76. Emily Williams of Texas A&M answered with an 84-81 to tie the event at one. The Bulldogs scored the final four points to take Equitation Over Fences 5-1. Abby O’Mara’s 77-71 win over Marlena Parker sparked the run. Carly Anthony followed with an 85-83 win over Leah Chenelle. Olivia Dorey earned the highest score of the event, picking up an 86-40 win over Kori Pickett. Kylee Arbuckle rounded out the event, finishing with an 83-81 win over Shelby Lawson.
Georgia and Texas A&M proved why they are tied for No. 1 in the country in Horsemanship, as they battled to a 2-2 draw that included two ties. Maria Salazar scored the first point in Horsemanship with a 73-69.5 victory over Carey Nowacek. Sara Parr and Cassie Mantor each scored a score of 71 for the first tie of the event. Anna Sasser and Molli Jacobs each totaled a 72, allowing Georgia to hold a 1-0 lead. The Bulldogs took a 2-0 lead when Paige Stawicki outscored Amanda Brightwell 72.5-71.5. The Aggies scored the final two points to tie Horsemanship at two. Caroline Ammons narrowly defeated Heather Schmidt 73-72.5 before Laura Brainard outlasted Megan Hawkins 74.5-73.5.
The Bulldogs continued to shine in the Hunt Seat ring, defeating Texas A&M 6-0 in Equitation on the Flat, earning four scores in the 90s in the process. Arbuckle scored the first point for the Bulldogs, earning an 87-84 win over Kelsi Shevlin. Grace Rogers followed the Georgia’s first score in the 90s with a 92-82 win over Emily Williams. Abby O’Mara then edged Kristin Bell 83-71 that put the Bulldogs up 3-0. Olivia Dorey earned the Bulldogs’ high score of 95 in a 95-94 win over Paige Russell. Anthony earned a 92-69 win over Ellie Wilkins. After being granted a reride, Francis sealed the sweep of Equitation on the Flat with her MVP-winning 97-74 win over Hannah Williams.
Texas A&M opened to a 1-0 lead in Reining after Laura Sumral edged Becca Haaland 70-68.5. The Bulldogs answered by scoring the next two points to take a 2-1 lead. Lauren Garmon scored the first point for the Bulldogs in Reining with a 67.5-65 win over Logan Pluhar. McKenzie Lantz followed with a 69.5-69 victory over Lindsey Bernbaum. The Aggies tied the Reining competition at two when Emma Myers narrowly defeated Micheline Carbone 69.5-69. Samantha Belcher’s 69.5-65.5 win over Becca Murray allowed the Bulldogs to regain a 3-2 lead. Lauren Tieche sealed the 4-2 win in Reining with a 69.5-69 win over Ashley Skold.